While Stephen Sondheim wasn't present for this 80th birthday tribute, his creation nonetheless shines brightly nearly 50 years after its debut at the Alvin Theatre (though this restaging is modeled on the 1972 revival). The show, with a book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, is a Roman comedy set to music in which the slave Pseudolus (the versatile Lee Wilkof) tries to win his freedom by helping his young master, Hero (Erich Bergen), to court Philia (Annie Abrams), the young virgin next door. Complicating this plan are, among other things, Hero's mother, Domina (the wonderfully over-the-top Ruth Williamson), who wants to keep Hero pure; Hero's father, Senex (a nicely lascivious Ron Orbach), who becomes enamored with Philia himself, and the warrior Miles Gloriosus (whose narcissism and bravado are perfectly executed by Stuart Ambrose), to whom Philia is already promised by the owner of the brothel next door, Marcus Lycus (Michael Kostroff). Rounding out the principals are Hysterium (Larry Raben), another slave to Senex and Domina; and the old man Erronius (a youthful and hilarious Alan Mandell). Director David Lee and choreographer Peggy Hickey keep the actors moving on, off and around the stage with the frenetic energy necessary to pull off the farce, with Lee finding the appropriate balance between the physical gags and the lyrical wit. The cast executes admirably, making for a thoroughly entertaining evening. UCLA, Ralph Freud Playhouse, 405 Hilgard Ave., Wstwd.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; through March 28. (310) 825-2101, reprise.org. A Reprise Theater Company production.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: March 17. Continues through March 28, 2010